Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The dress makes the girl

Our oldest daughter has had a variety of dress-up clothes, most of them hand-me-downs from one of my aunts who made lots of neat costumes for her own children years ago. We've greatly enjoyed those, but the girls are growing out of them. And there's only ever been one pioneer dress to wear, so our youngest daughter usually missed out.

For Christmas, I had hoped to make a pioneer dress tailored just for the youngest, but since I'm not exactly a seamstress, I figured it would take me WEEKS. I put it off for MONTHS, until last week when we had a quiet Sunday at home. I decided to go for it.

Turns out the dress isn't that difficult to make. Oh, sure, I had to learn a few new things like how to make darts (easy, but even EASIER once a friend saw the results of my first effort and explained it to me) and "ease" sleeves. But about five sewing hours later, the long dress, complete with long sleeves, ruffles and high collar was nearly complete. Our daughter was THRILLED! She's already worn it 4 of the 9 days since it was made, and I'm proud to say it's held up to one camp trip, and several runs through the washer.

We headed down to the fabric store together to let the youngest pick out her own buttons for the front. After explaining that plastic kitty buttons weren't exactly all the rage when the pioneers were out and about, she did an amazing job of finding matching buttons. She went with some bronze-like buttons that are rose shaped to match the roses in her calico print. They look fabulous! Meanwhile, the older daughter selected the fabric, ribbon and lace for her own new dress. Quote of the week: "I don't mind if you stay up late as long as you finish my dress." In print, it sounds terrible. But she's not a slave driver. She just REALLY wanted that dress for the next day. And she had it.

The dresses were VERY well received during our trip this weekend to Mission San Antonio where docents were dressed in period garb. In fact, I don't believe I've heard as many compliments for anything I've ever made in my life! The compliments were directed to the girls, who were ever so proud of their new things. It must be how pioneer girls felt when they finally got to don that one new dress of the year.

I hope they hold up for an upcoming colonial ball birthday party, and our Big Trek. They should go well in Laura Ingalls Wilder territory!

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